To the folks 50 Cent once disdainfully described as the window shoppers of the world—which, in completely unaffordable Vancouver, is most of us—Post Malone should be among the most hated creatures on the planet.
Start with the crime of being a white guy from a seemingly stable seemingly middle-class background. Which would be fine, except we’re talking a white guy who, after starting out obsessed with guitar music, saw hip-hop as a better career option than a five-person emo band where everyone sports swoopy post-Hitler haircuts.
More unforgivable, he’s a white guy who cruised to the top of the hip-hop food chain without ever struggling on food stamps in a southern trailer park, Detroit squat, or windowless East Vancouver basement suite.
“I understand that I kind of came out of nowhere,” Malone told New York–based Paper in 2017. “There’s a lot of people that are upset about that.”
Making things worse, he first surfaced wearing more gold chains than early Run-DMC, grills straight from the mouth of Lil John, and cornrows most often sported by 11-year-old girls returning from a beach vacation in Jamaica.
Bringing things up to the present, even though Post Malone is now a minted member of the rarefied one-percent club, he spends chunks of his just-released third full-length—Hollywood’s Bleeding—making the case that life at the top is a lot harder than it looks.
Suggesting Malone has been studying the tortured life of Saint Kurt Cobain, the title track has him wondering “It seem like dying young is an honor/But who’d be at my funeral?”
Making a case he’ll never have to work again—unless he blows all his money on stupid shit like yachts and solid-gold brass knuckles—“St. Tropez” celebrates the good life with “On a yacht, 50 meters, it’s a fish (Official)/50 carats on my fist (On my fist)”.
And making sure that you’ve got the memo that Post Malone makes more in a night than you will in the next decade, “On the Road” contains the revelation “ ’Cause my time is expensive, one mill a setlist/Bought a new car ’fore you woke up for breakfast, yeah”.
Because life isn’t fair, such observations would somehow seem perfectly acceptable coming from an unrepentant braggart like Kanye West. But because Malone is white, and because he looks like someone who bathes less often than an Idaho hobo, and because (in case we forgot to mention it) he’s white, to many it’s more offensive than Robbie Van Winkle during the glory years.
But here’s where things get interesting. Based on large swaths of Internet evidence, the man born Austin Richard Post appears to get the joke. And more importantly, he’s not afraid to let the world laugh at him.
Flash back, if you will, to last October, when Malone went undercover at an L.A. indie record store in support of Folds of Honor, a nonprofit providing scholarships to the spouses and kids of deceased and disabled American service members. When you’ve been called an interloper and culture vulture more times than you can count—and not just by Lil B and Vince Staples—it takes a certain amount of self-deprecation to take shots at yourself in public. But there Malone is, in disguise while offering his records to people who wouldn’t know Post Malone from a fence post, pushing his work with such heartfelt endorsements as “You wanna buy this—we’re trying to get rid of it because it sucks” and “You know Post Malone? Trash.”
That mindset suggests someone’s either really good at acting, or a genuinely humble and (surprisingly, given we’re talking about celebrities) nice person. And that’s where Post Malone gets the win.
Even though nine out of 10 articles about the singer and rapper dwell on his personal hygiene habits—or lack thereof—profilers go out of their way to note that he’s as open and congenial an interview subject as one could hope for. Despite this, he still has to take to Twitter afterwards to tweet out assurances that he doesn’t stink.
When Vancouver’s Nardwuar the Human Serviette interviews hip-hop heavyweights, the first few minutes are often marked by curious suspicion and a guarded lack of enthusiasm. Watch the Nard’s interview with Post Malone in December of 2017 and you’ll find a man who looks happy to be there right from when the camera rolls.
Fuck declaring himself the greatest thing since Eminem—not to mention Machine Gun Kelly—the MC laughingly declares near the end of the interview “I still only have one good song.” He then finishes up with the following bit of invaluable advice: “Believe in yourself even if no one else does.”
And with that, Post Malone conveys why, for all the shit he’s taken, he might be one of the most important voices of his generation.
Every second time the man looks at a subway poster of himself, someone’s drawn cartoon stink squiggles on it. And based on parts of Hollywood’s Bleeding, he’s secretly as convinced of his own worthlessness as the rest of us.
That’s not stopping him from trying to make the world a better place for everyone, including those who’ve openly mocked him. Take solace, window shoppers, because finally you’ve got someone who cares on your side.
Post Malone plays Rogers Arena on Monday (September 16).